LWRP considered important tool for village future
By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
Cold Spring’s Village Board on Tuesday (June 26) began wading in the waters of riverfront policy-making, launching a review of the village’s 7-month-old waterfront revitalization strategy with the idea of turning it into a full Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP), a far-reaching initiative to ensure control over what happens on village shores and beyond for decades. As a local link in an intergovernmental coastal management chain, the LWRP, in the words of Village Attorney Stephen Gaba, “becomes a de facto state and national law.” As the Cold Spring component of the federal and state Coastal Zone Management Program, Gaba told the board, an LWRP provides protection against any laws, programs or approvals, even those of state or federal entities, inconsistent with the LWRP. “Perhaps equally important, an approved LWRP makes the municipality eligible for receipt of grant money, loans and other funding” not otherwise forthcoming, Gaba stated.
The LWRP, the policy element of a village coastal program, would build on the prototype Local Waterfront Revitalization Strategy as well as on the village’s Comprehensive Plan but go beyond them. For example, according to Gaba, while a waterfront revitalization strategy can serve as a guide for village sub-boards and planning, it “has no legally binding effect on land use and development in the municipality.”
The Village Board adopted the Comprehensive Plan in January. Last November, the State of New York accepted the 169-page Waterfront Strategy, prepared by the Cold Spring Special Board for a Comprehensive Plan-LWRP. The Village Board was not required to review the strategy document in any depth at that stage but now is getting involved with the push for a more authoritative LWRP. Although the nitty-gritty of drafting the LWRP falls to the Special Board, the Village Board ultimately would have to ratify the document and send it to New York State for final approval.
Special Board Vice Chairperson Anne Impellizzeri pointed to “one overarching, underlying fact” to remember about LWRPs and New York State: “When they talk about the waterfront area, that means the whole village, because we are in the state’s whole coastal management zone,” thanks to Cold Spring’s small size, 407 acres. “We’re getting down to the point where the village needs to start looking at the land-use provisions for the waterfront area and the projects it wants to espouse”; the Village Board needs to decide “where you want to see this going,” Gaba observed. He urged that henceforth the Village Board and Special Board collaborate “to make sure everybody’s on the same page.” Like the Comprehensive Plan, the LWRP has numerous implications for the law. “One of the best ways to implement your LWRP is through zoning and land-use provisions … and code changes,” Gaba informed the board.
With content similar to the Comprehensive Plan, the preliminary Waterfront Strategy covers everything from such revenue-enhancing aids as metered parking to policies for use of such major sites as the Marathon battery tract, owned by a private developer; the village garage, a municipal property envisioned in the Waterfront Strategy as a garage-cum-public park; and Dockside Park, owned by the state. Mayor Seth Gallagher noted that an agreement on day-to-day control of Dockside by the village remains pending, and state officials want “some detailed ideas on what we’d be looking to do” there. The Waterfront Strategy proposed an improved public park, with a shelter and food concession building, washrooms, access ramp into the water, stabilized shore with fishing, a path up the 65-foot hill (currently covered with scrub) and a trail leading under the railroad tracks to connect with another potential trail above.
Skeptical about the merits of charging for public parking, the mayor zeroed in on metered parking. “That to me is a little bit contentious. It’s going to take some time,” he said. Special Board research has indicated the village could earn tens of thousands, perhaps as much as $200,000 annually, if it installed a metered parking system in such areas as the Main Street commercial district.
Echoing a suggestion from Gaba, Gallagher recommended that in upcoming workshops the Village Board review the Waterfront Strategy section by section, “try to figure out what this would mean” and which projects to prioritize in an LWRP. “I do feel like I understand it a little better. It’s not so mysterious,” he said of the LWRP process. “I think for most areas, for most of the village, it’s not going to be too controversial,” Gaba predicted.
The board also briefly discussed the sole response so far to its request for proposals on restoration of The Grove, the historic but derelict circa-1853 house on a knoll opposite the Foodtown and Drug World plazas. A local couple proposed buying The Grove for $1,000 and renovating it as a single-family house, with a new two-car garage added. The board expressed little enthusiasm. “We may need to search a bit more, to see if there are better, other options out there,” Gallagher said.
“There definitely are better options out there,” Trustee Bruce Campbell replied.